Alaskan Malamute Female
Canis lupus familiaris

The Alaskan Malamute is descended from the dogs of the Mahlemuits tribe of Alaska, which can be traced back about 3,000 years!

The Malamute is a working breed. They have served as companions and helpers and have also proven to be adept at search and rescue. Originally bred as a sled dog, it is now a popular family dog.

Malamutes are loyal and amicable, making them good candidates for family pets. They tend to become attached to their masters, yet they are quite able to get along with everyone in the family. Fun-loving and active as puppies, this breed grows up to be calm and even-tempered.

The Alaskan Malamute does requires a great deal of attention. If it doesn’t get it, the dog could become destructive. But as long as the Malamute has human companionship and proper handling and socialization, it is a well-mannered and pleasant pet. When selecting a Malamute, look for signs of hip dysplasia. Dwarfism is sometimes found in this breed, so ask for dwarfism test results from the dog’s parents.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Canidae
  • Genus: Canis
  • Species: lupus familiaris

Common Name(s)

Alaskan Malamute, Malamute, and Mal

Breed Type

The Alaskan Malamute is a working breed. Originally bred as a sled dog, it is now a popular family dog. The Malamute is best suited to cool to moderate climates.


Malamutes are descended from the dogs of the Mahlemuits tribe of Alaska, which can be traced back up to 3,000 years. These dogs served as companions and helpers, pulling travel and supply sleds and accompanying their owners on hunting trips. The breed was traditionally kept as pure as possible until the Klondike Gold Rush, when high demand led some owners to cross them with other breeds.
The Alaskan Malamute has also proven to be adept at search and rescue. It is sometimes used in sled racing as well, although it is usually slower than smaller breeds. In sport, the Malamute is better suited to carting or weight pulling.


Malamutes closely resemble wolves, but their friendly expressions give them away. They are large, muscular dogs with wide heads. Their ears are medium sized, pointed and erect, and their eyes small and brown. Their feet are furry, and their tails plumed and carried over the back. The coat is of medium length and may be white, black and white, wolf gray, wolf sable, or red. The legs and muzzle are usually white.
Male Malamutes are usually 24 to 26 inches tall and weigh 80 to 95 pounds. Females are usually 22 to 24 inches tall and weigh 70 to 85 pounds. It is not unusual, however, for these dogs to be larger or smaller than the standard size.

Care and Feeding

The Alaskan Malamute’s native food sources consisted of northern fish, whale, and seal meat. The best substitutes available in commercial food include poultry, fish, lamb and rice. This breed is prone to bloat, so feeding two or three smaller meals a day rather than one large meal is advisable.
The Malamute needs to be brushed at least twice a week to remove dead hair from their thick coats. Dry shampoos should be given occasionally, but this breed tends to remain clean and odor free.
Malamutes need annual checkups in order to stay healthy. Vaccinations should be administered on the following

  • 6-8 weeks: Distemper, Leptospirosis, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvo, and Corona virus (DHLPPC)
  • 10-12 weeks: Second DHLPPC
  • 14-16 weeks: Third DHLPPC and rabies
  • Annually: DHLPPC and rabies booster

An Alaskan Malamute will shed very heavily, especially in the spring. Regular vacuuming of the carpet and furniture is necessary if kept indoors.

Housing Your Dog

Malamutes are not good candidates for living indoors in small spaces. They are somewhat active indoors, and they need the opportunity to roam outside regularly. It is best if these dogs have a large yard surrounded by a high, sturdy fence with a buried base. In very hot weather, they need to be indoors with air conditioning if possible. If they must stay outside, plenty of shade and cool water (to drink and play in) are important.

Social Behaviors

Malamutes naturally get along well with their families, and they are rarely aggressive toward strangers. They might be aggressive toward other dogs, however, especially other Malamutes of the same sex. They may also view smaller animals as prey. But with proper socialization, they can coexist peacefully with virtually any animal.

Handling and Training

The Alaskan Malamute is very smart, but it also has a mind of its own. Obedience training can be difficult, but with firmness and patience, it can be successful. Housebreaking may be difficult.


Alaskan Malamutes need long daily walks, as well as regular opportunities to roam off-leash. It’s important not to overwork the dog in warm weather, because its thick fur could cause overheating.


Malamutes have an average of six puppies per litter. When selecting a mate for your Malamute, it’s important to check bloodlines for dwarfism and hip dysplasia.

Common Health Problems

Malamutes are usually quite healthy dogs. Potential health concerns include eye problems, hip dysplasia, and cancer in the animal’s later years. Bloat is fairly common in this breed, so it is important to know the symptoms and be prepared to take your Malamute to the vet quickly if you see them. Feeding two to three small meals per day can help prevent bloat.


Malamutes are easy to find in most areas. Prices vary greatly, usually ranging from $500 to $1,500, but sometimes running as high as $2,500.


Featured Image Credit: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Shutterstock